American diners often fill massive breakfast omelets with shredded hash brown potatoes so it should not come as a surprise that the Japanese fill their most popular omelet with, what else, rice! Omuraisu is a type of yoshoku which are Japanese dishes adapted from foreign ones. The word omuraisu combines the words omelet and rice with a Japanese pronunciation. The egg omelet is filled with pirafu, a pilaf of tomato ketchup-seasoned fried rice.
Omuraisu is a simple yet popular dish found in restaurants, food vendor carts and homes. It is very easy to make with common ingredients found in every Japanese kitchen: eggs and rice. Some people (well, mainly my husband) think that ketchup and rice is a horrible flavor combination. It is not so strange to me. One of my favorite breakfasts is a fried sunny-side up egg on leftover cold white rice, sprinkled with soy sauce and ketchup. He practically gags when I eat this. (And yet, he can eat uni, the gonads of the sea urchin, without flinching.)
Anyway, I digress. Most eateries do not veer from the basic recipe for omuraisu, but that does not mean you can’t. I love the basic recipe for its simplicity but I often substitute the chicken with whatever meat I have on hand, like chopped ham or bacon. And I have a thing for green onions so I add them as well. If you are a veggie lover, you can add chopped, sautéed vegetables and call your version Vegi Omuraisu!
Omuraisu does not contain any soy sauce seasoning. Add it at the table, if you must, but taste it first without. Shoyu tends to overpower the buttery-tomato flavor of the rice. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the wonderful flavor of this simple dish. You can eat it any time of day.
Omuraisu Rice Omelet
1 tsp. water
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups cooked white rice
4 Tbsp. butter, divided use (no substitutions)
¼ cup onion, diced
½ cup cooked chicken, shredded or diced*
3 Tbsp. tomato ketchup
pinch of salt, to taste
more ketchup for garnishing the top
Heat a small sauté pan, melt 3 Tbsp. butter. Add diced onion and cook until translucent. Add tomato ketchup, cooked chicken, rice, salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss until rice is thoroughly coated with seasonings and heated through. Transfer fried rice to a plate.
In a small mixing bowl, crack three eggs. Add a pinch of salt. Scramble well, beating some air into the eggs to achieve a fluffy omelet. Stir 1 tsp. of water into the beaten eggs. The air will evaporate and the steam will help make the omelet fluffy.
Heat an omelet pan over medium heat and melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter. Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with butter to prevent the omelet from sticking. Pour in the beaten eggs. Using chopsticks or a wooden spoon, gently stir the center of the eggs for about 10 seconds. Allow the eggs to cook gently and set. Run a spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the omelet. When the omelet is nearly completely cooked (the center should still be slightly moist and a touch runny), spread the fried rice down the center of the omelet. Flip one side of the omelet over the rice, then roll the rice-filled omelet over the other side and onto a serving plate. If that intimidates you, you can do as some eateries and gently press the rice into an elliptical shape on a plate and cover it with the omelet.
Using a squirt bottle, squeeze some decorative lines of ketchup over the omuraisu. Serve and enjoy!
*You can start with uncooked chicken. Just dice it and sauté it along with the raw onion. And don’t forget that you can use any other cooked meat including crispy bacon, ham and cooked shrimp.